Fishing on Lake of the Woods was not the main attraction for thousands of visitors who arrived in Baudette, Minn., in late August.
Rather, those folks preferred to keep their feet on the ground. They had traveled to watch and participate in the 66th World Ploughing Competition. Representatives from 28 countries came, drawing around 7,000 people for the three-day event held Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.
The competition site was located south of town on several hundred acres of wheat stubble and rye grassland, which was provided by local farmers Ed and Kay Arneson.
At a welcome dinner Aug. 25 attended by competitors, judges and community members, Joe Henry, executive director for Lake of the Woods Tourism, thanked contest organizers for choosing Baudette for its 2019 contest site, saying it was an honor to host the event.
“It was a team effort to pull this together, too,” he said. He thanked numerous community volunteers and national and international plowing leaders. He noted that a year ago he had reached out to communities across northern Minnesota, from Bemidji to Thief River Falls, for assistance.
Welcoming guests from all over the world was a first for this small northern Minnesota, he said. More than 100 volunteers worked to ensure the event’s success.
In order to compete in the world ploughing competition, competitors first had to win their country’s contest. Many competitors traveling to international competitions ship their tractors and plows to the contest site. Some line up borrowed equipment ahead of time. All arrive early to practice plowing in fields near where the competition will take place.
Plowers have strict rules to follow in the two competition categories — conventional and reversible plowing in both stubble and grassland plots. Equipment specifications on the two- or three-furrow plows must be met for coulters, skimmers and tailpieces. Control devices, such as GPS, laser beams and electronic remote controls are prohibited. Manual adjustments for settings to hydraulic, pneumatic, electric, photographic and audio instruments are allowed.
Competitors can take up to three hours to plow their plots — 100 meters long by 20 meters wide (conventional plowing) and 100 meters long by 24 meters wide at one end and 16 meters wide at the other (reverse plowing). They are constantly on and off their tractors, checking fresh-turned soil and tweaking equipment. They are allowed 20 minutes to make their open furrow and then must stop to allow judges to score this step.
Judges award points based on various criteria including the opening furrow, straightness, weed control, crown, furrow uniformity and firmness, neatness, ins and outs, lack of wheel marks, and time allotment. Depth varies depending on the field and conditions, but it is never less than 16 centimeters.
Those taking top honors at the 2019 World Ploughing Competition were:
Conventional Ploughing Division. First place, Andrew Mitchell, Scotland; Second place, Eamonn Tracey, Republic of Ireland; and Third place, Gene Gruber, U.S.
Reversible Ploughing Division. First place, Marco Angst, Switzerland; Second place, John Whelan, Republic of Ireland; and Third place, Soren Korsgaard, Denmark.
The World Ploughing Competition rotates to a different country each year. This was the fourth time the contest was held in the U.S. The U.S. hosted the event in 1957 in Peebles, Ohio; in 1972 in Mankato, Minn.; and in 1988, Amana, Iowa. In 2020, Russia will host the competition.